Carnival Putignano, Apulia, Italy Carnevale.
It doesn't matter whether you call it Carnival, Carnevale,
or Mardi Gras. There's nothing like a Carnival celebration to help banish those winter
blues. Italy is one of the best places to view and participate in a Carnevale vacation.
Everywhere you will find Carnevale masks, costumes, allegorical floats, special food> and
wine. And interestingly enough, each Italian region does Carnevale differently. What are you
This fabulous celebration occurs on the Tuesday 40 days before Easter so the date varies. Carnevale 2014 is on March 4th, Carnevale 2015 is on February 17th, but Carnevale season starts earlier. Plan your Italian holidays now. Keep reading.
A major Italian Carnevale takes place in the town of Putignano, population 30 thousand, on the Adriatic Sea some twenty-five miles (forty kilometers) southeast of Bari, the regional capital. The first records describing this Carnevale date back to December, 1394 making it arguably the oldest Carnival in the world. Since Apulia was heavily influenced by the Greeks, it should be no surprise that the Putignano Carnevale was dedicated to Dionysus, the Greek god of wine. As elsewhere during Carnevale social norms were stood on their head. Celebrations traditionally begun on December 26 when the peasants carried wax to church to beg pardon for the sins to be commited. That night at a feast actors recited a poem running through the year’s majors events and local celebrities. The Putignano Carnivale was the longest Carnival in the world.
A major aspect of the Putignano Carnevale is known as Propaggini, transporting St. Stefan Protomartyre's Holy Relics from the nearby Monopoli Castle to Putignano, accompanied by a parade of masked farmers dancing, singing and reciting poems. Now the parade is accompanied by huge, papier-maché floats. It helps if you are aware of local and national politicians and other personalities but even if you can’t name Italy’s prime minister (Sylvio Berlusconi at the time of this writing) or major rock singers, you’ll be sure to enjoy the procession and even identify some of the targets of popular cynicism.
The central character of this Carnevale goes by the name of Farinella, a word associated with a popular local dish made from barley and chickpeas. Farinella is a jester wearing bright clothes and a two peaked hat with little bells. He resembles Harlequin, the central figure of the Venice Carnevale. Locals will tell you which mascot they prefer.
Farinella, Carnival Putignano, Apulia, Italy Carnevale.
The Dauno Carnival takes place in the coastal city of Manfredonia, population 100 thousand. The central activity is the parade with the usual (or should we say unusual?) accompaniment of satirical masks and floats on the Sunday before Mardi Gras. Other events including literary, painting, and photography contests, dancing, satirical floats and the burial of Ze’ Peppe, the Carnevale mascot. There’s a unique UNICEF sponsored Parade of Wonders in which thousands of elementary and secondary school children participate. Scholars refer to local Carnevale celebrations dating back to the Sixth or Seventh Century B.C.
The fishing port of town of Gallipoli whose old town lies on an island in the heel of the Italian boot was the site of a horrific World War I battle in which an estimated 130 thousand people were killed and twice that many wounded. Its Carnevale originated in Roman pagan festivals. The first event takes place on January 17, Saint Antony’s day with Focaredda, when the people dance around a huge bonfire. The masks and the traditional cakes appear. Carnevale terminates on Mardi Gras with the usual procession of satirical floats but the local focus is on “lu Titoru” a puppet representing young soldier, returning home who dies from overeating, mostly meat balls. The mourners traditionally include children dressed as women. And wherever you go and whatever you do, check out the fine local wines.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.
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Carnevale, carnival, carnivale season, Apulia.